Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.
My Bachelor’s degree was in nursing. I am a Registered Nurse that has used that background to move into Health Informatics. Both my M.Ed. and Ph.D. are in Education; the first in Adult Education & Instructional Design and the Ph.D. in Educational Administration.
In my career, I’ve been a public health nurse, a staff development instructor and manager, as well as the first health informatics specialist at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland. Also at Metro, I managed the first implementation of a hospital information system, managed the help desk and worked in computer security.
I didn’t come to the Academy until 1995 when I became faculty at the CWRU Nursing School. I was there for 17 years and started the Master’s program in Nursing Informatics as well as NurseWeb (a website for Nursing Informatics) and was architect of the undergraduate courses in nursing informatics.
My foci within health informatics are: organizational culture and its impact on system implementation, interoperability of health information systems, project management, and systems analysis and design. Obviously, education is an overarching concept.
Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.
Most of my recent research has focused on the way clinicians respond to electronic medical record systems. What we’ve found is that they all see the value added from the systems, but they, to a person, dislike pull down menus, alarms, having to chart while patients are with them, and non-intuitive applications. We’ve also found that they are very frustrated when systems don’t talk to each other.
As far as projects, I’m working on setting up a dual degree with Public Health, program accreditation, and building up admissions. The program also sponsors, along with the local chapter of the Health Information & Management Systems Society, a monthly webinar series.
What is your favorite part of teaching?
First, let me tell you my mantra: without any of you, the students, there would be no need for us, the faculty. I never forget that. So, obviously, watching students grow and learn is an absolute joy. I love being a person who can help lead a student to understanding without giving them the answer. When you see that understanding occur, the ah-ha moment, that’s the real joy.
Do you have a favorite teaching moment?
There are so many but here’s the funniest one. I was teaching a group of sophomore nursing students epidemiology. I was waxing rhapsodic about the first incidence of Ebola virus, about 1980 or so. I kept saying, it was in the news, you should have read about it. They all looked at me as if I had grown a second head or third arm. Finally, one of them sheepishly raised their hand and quietly said, Dr. Hudak, we weren’t even born in 1980! Huge wake up call, but tremendously funny.
How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?
Since I didn’t come to the Academy until I’d been working for almost 25 years, my teaching is very practical. I tend to look at the real world and apply that to theories. Hence, I use a ton of examples from the real world in my teaching. It helps make what we do as informaticians in our classes make sense when students go out into practice.
What issues related to information interest you most?
Computer security for one. With the price for a purloined medical record going for over $1,000 on the dark web, it behooves hospitals to have the most robust systems they can. Unfortunately, as fast as we develop security measures, a black-hatted hacker finds a back door to steal records. Additionally, I’m interested in how hospitals respond to ransom attacks. Do you or do you not pay the ransom when your hospital’s system is shut down until you pay the ransom? Interesting conundrum.
I’m also interested in the interoperability of different systems. If we are ever to have a truly complete health record, then every system has to be able to share information with every other system and now, they don’t.
Women in Health IT is another issue. When I first started in IT, it was primarily men. Now, women are becoming more influential and we are no longer an oddity.
Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?
There are so many but those with the most reliable and current information are the Health Information & Management Systems Society, the American Medical Informatics Association, and the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Informatics.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our HI Listserv. We have lots of information about HI, job opportunities, free conferences and webinars as well as student information. Anyone can join it – just email me and ask.
I will be posting, within the next week or so, a list of free HI-related newsletters. This is the best way to keep up with what’s been happening in HI.
If you had one superpower:
I’d like to be invisible. I’d like to be able to go unnoticed into hospital board rooms and see how they make decisions about which system to buy.
How do you like to spend time outside of work?
I like to garden. I’m a certified Master Gardener through Ohio State Extension. I volunteer at the Cleveland Botanical Garden and do online diagnostics around the state.
I also do needlework, mostly counted cross stitch and Assisi stitch.
I love music and my husband and I have subscriptions to the Cleveland Orchestra, Apollo’s Fire, and the Cleveland Chamber Music Society. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has moved most of those subscriptions online; acceptable but not the same as the live experience. I volunteer on political campaigns. And I love, love the Cleveland Browns! I also collect Teddy Bears!
Do you have any advice for students?
Never, ever, preface a question with, “This is a dumb question”. There are no dumb questions. Seriously, if you have a question, you are asking it for a reason.
Also, don’t be afraid to explore opportunities out of your major area. Sometimes, what seems to be in the outfield, is a perfect fit. Look at me, nursing to Program Coordinator for Health Informatics.
Learn to use social media intelligently. Utilize LinkedIn to network like crazy; read your posts on Twitter before you send them; stay safe on Facebook and Instagram.
Find a mentor and use them. I identified my mentor in graduate school and I still communicate with him. In fact, he’s writing a chapter in my book!
What class(es) are you teaching for Kent’s iSchool?
HI 60401 Health Informatics Management
HI 60403 Health Information Systems
HI 60417 Public Health Informatics
Also Individual Investigations and Culminating Experiences.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I know this is self-serving but it makes me proud: in 2019, I was chosen as one of the Most Influential Women in Health IT by HIMSS. This year, I was named a Fellow of the American Medical Informatics Association. In 2013, I was named a Fellow of HIMSS. When you’re recognized by your peers, it’s very special.